Wilderness Survival: Don’t Do This

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 7 months ago

From Michigan:

SILVER CITY — A father and son from Albertville, Minnesota are lucky to be alive after being lost while snowmobiling and surviving 28 hours in near minus 20 degree temperatures.

Benjamin M. Jenny Sr., 40, and Benjamin M. Jenny Jr., 19, are in Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital Monday night in good condition. Both men suffered hypothermia and dehydration symptoms.

Michigan State Police at the Wakefield Post say the two men were snowmobiling in an area near Silver City in Ontonagon County on Sunday. They were last seen leaving a restaurant at 11:30 a.m. Police say the pair was on the trail all day and on a river. While on the river, their snowmobiles began to ice up and stopped. They were stranded in the back country, deep in the woods. It was 5:30, Sunday evening.

Authorities say at that point they tried to walk out. The snow at times was four to five feet deep. They had no survival gear with them.

The father and son did have a cell phone, but they could not get service. They instead sent a text message about their situation. After that, the cell phone went dead and the weather turned worse. A blizzard was taking hold.

The Michigan State Police were called in Sunday night about 8:30. Those with the Michigan DNR, the Ontonagon County Sheriff’s Department and County Emergency Coordinator and the U.S. Forest Service were all part of the search and rescue party.

Several search and rescue snowmobilers started down the trail Sunday night. Around one Monday morning, weather conditions turned them back. The blizzard was too much for the rescue crews. There was an eighth of a mile visibility, winds clocked at 20 to 30 miles an hour and gusting to 40 miles an hour. The search would have to wait until later.

A State Police official says search and rescue crews wanted to know the last known location for the two men. That’s when the United States Air Force entered the picture. The Air Force was able to use that last text message ping from the men, to narrow their location to within four square miles where they were last. That’s where the search and rescue crews headed Monday morning.

Thirteen people from local, state and federal agencies were involved in the search. They were on snowmobiles and snowshoes. The U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was called in to assist. However, weather socked them in, at their base in Traverse City. The Michigan Civil Air Patrol Group 700 also tried to get their fixed winged aircraft up, but weather made that impossible.

After a long night in the woods of Ontonagon County, with temperatures of minus 20 and a windchills even worse, no way for the men to start a fire, police say they knew they had to keep moving to survive.

Finally, at 2:11 Monday afternoon, 28 hours after being in the woods, Bill Doan, a supervisor at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, found both men. Doan was on snowshoes.

Good grief.  We’ve covered this in detail folks.  I don’t even go on a long drive, much less out into the wilderness on camping, hiking, or other trips, without at least: A gun (or guns) and extra ammunition, a knife, 550 cordage, a rubberized poncho, a tactical light with extra 123 batteries, and multiple means of starting a fire.

This list is a bare minimum, and I might carry much more.  But with the items on this list you can keep warm, give yourself shelter (with the poncho and 550 cord), see at night, and protect yourself.  For a trip into the snowy wilderness, this list would be significantly expanded to include a tarp, fleece, heavy gloves, parka, head and face protection, and maybe a sub-zero sleeping bag.

Dear readers – don’t even be caught in a situation in which you weren’t prepared because you had quite literally nothing when you went out into the wilderness.  You know better than that.

Prior:

Survival In The Canadian Wilderness

Nineteen Snowy Days Of Survival

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Comments

  1. On January 28, 2014 at 3:21 am, Dan said:

    Rats…..Darwin’s genetic filter thwarted, at GREAT expense to the taxpayer. Just a few more hours and Genius 1 AND 2 could have
    had their defective genetic material removed from society.

  2. On January 28, 2014 at 10:02 am, Paul B said:

    We do, They didn’t.

    They should be billed for the rescue, not that they could pay for it.

    We need to outlaw snowmobiles! For the Children!

    Hee hee hee.

  3. On January 29, 2014 at 2:43 am, Nate said:

    If you can’t create fire you have no business leaving your house.

  4. On February 1, 2014 at 11:06 am, bill cloer said:

    Here in VT they do bill you for a rescue. A few years ago, some adventurous skiers went off the trail while skiing and got themselves lost. They were rescued after spending the night on the mountain. All four, safe and sound, received a bill for around 10k (each!) for their troubles. Having the right gear when you are “out there” is a must and in Vermont, the much cheaper option.

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You are currently reading "Wilderness Survival: Don’t Do This", entry #11817 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Survival and was published January 27th, 2014 by Herschel Smith.

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